Maui planning, tips, and trip reports

braysmommy

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 10, 2010
We have a 2 week Hawaii trip starting next Monday. Flying from Boston to Maui next week for first week before flying to Oahu and have a split stay 3 nights Aulani/4 nights Waikiki. It is myself and my 15 yr old son traveling and it will be our first time to Hawaii. On Maui we booked a snorkeling tour, will hike on Haleakala, road to Hana, snorkel from beaches and hike. Our 3 nights at Aulani we will do the North Shore but besides that probably just enjoy the resort. I have booked Pearl Harbor and a kayaking tour during our stay in Waikiki. Getting excited as this is a make up vacation for when our Hawaii DCL cruise was canceled.
 

cgattis

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
We did an Aulani/Oahu and Maui trip in 2019 (Trip Report in my signature.) I did TONS of research before we went and it turned out to be our best family vacation yet! SO we are planning on going back in the summer of 2022 (like you.)
This time we will fly to Maui first, so we can do the sunrise from Haleakala (our first full day) without too much strain because of the time difference. Makena Beach down in South Maui (Wailea area) is awesome, as is the Wailea Beach Resort by Marriott - that is where we will be staying (already booked our room.) The Wailea area is VERY similar to the Ko Olina area on Oahu where Aulani is. Upscale and beautifully manicured areas.
I am starting up my further research for that trip - so I will be following this thread for ideas.
We did Haleakala last trip, but not for sunrise. Just couldn’t convince the fan it’d be worth it. Not sure if we’ll try this time or not, but it was still awesome to see even in full daylight. Like being on Mars!!

We’re seriously staying at the same hotel…..!! You must be going a little before us because my dates aren’t open yet. You can be the guinea pig!! 🤣. Have you stayed there before? Would love some specific feedback on pools and such if you have; kind of hard to tell what’s what/where from the pics online. (If I can’t get all my nights on points, we may stay at that Residence Inn.)

I’ve got this Maui snorkel guide book that talks very specifically about pros and cons of each beach. Definitely Makena seems great. Any other faves you have? Probably will check out all the ones on the beach path but want to check out Malauka too; we saw zero turtles in 14 days last time (but several seals!!) so really hoping to see some! Was even thinking of kayaking there; have you?

Also, both Snorkel Bob’s and the Snorkel Store rent stuff at great rates and both have cute newsletters/snorkel reports you can sign up for. I’ll probably carry my own snorkels, but considering renting belts.

And since you’re a Texan, I’ll mention we plan to go ride horses one day, but can’t really decide where. Makena Stables takes you to the beach, but another one (forget the name) is on the edge of Ulupalakua Ranch (which we visited last time) and DH loves to see the cattle farms (he has black angus too). Any experience with riding there?

Happy to share anything I learned last time and look forward to planning alongside you here!!
 

cgattis

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
We have a 2 week Hawaii trip starting next Monday. Flying from Boston to Maui next week for first week before flying to Oahu and have a split stay 3 nights Aulani/4 nights Waikiki. It is myself and my 15 yr old son traveling and it will be our first time to Hawaii. On Maui we booked a snorkeling tour, will hike on Haleakala, road to Hana, snorkel from beaches and hike. Our 3 nights at Aulani we will do the North Shore but besides that probably just enjoy the resort. I have booked Pearl Harbor and a kayaking tour during our stay in Waikiki. Getting excited as this is a make up vacation for when our Hawaii DCL cruise was canceled.
Have you driven to Hana before? I’m happy to share our personal opinions on it. We’re spending a couple of nights in Hana this time so we don’t have to rush so much.

Have you snorkeled from the beaches there before? Would love to hear your opinions of each. Is your snorkeling tour to Molokini?
 

braysmommy

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 10, 2010
Have you driven to Hana before? I’m happy to share our personal opinions on it. We’re spending a couple of nights in Hana this time so we don’t have to rush so much.

Have you snorkeled from the beaches there before? Would love to hear your opinions of each. Is your snorkeling tour to Molokini?
Would love your recommendation for Hana! This will be our first time on Maui and booked snorkeling tour with Sail Trilogy - Discover Kaanapali. Will be sure to keep notes and report back after our vacation. Just booked our Walgreens ID Now test for Friday afternoon!
 

cgattis

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jan 1, 2009
Would love your recommendation for Hana! This will be our first time on Maui and booked snorkeling tour with Sail Trilogy - Discover Kaanapali. Will be sure to keep notes and report back after our vacation. Just booked our Walgreens ID Now test for Friday afternoon!
I’ve definitely got my thoughts on the road to Hana! First, if you’ve got folks who get carsick, I’d highly recommend taking whatever they normally take (Dramamine or whatever); I’d definitely have needed it if I had been in the back seat. I recommend the Shaka Guide or Gypsy app to help narrate along the way and help you not miss some of the pull-offs. Work of warning, though—my kids hated the music in between and wanted the radio LOL Heed the stop directions at the one-way bridges for sure!! Don’t leave anything in your car you can’t stand to lose. All we took was a cooler and a clear beach bag so anyone could see it just had sunscreen and crap in it. Whether because of that or just luck, nothing was bothered. (And I took a roll of paper “shop towels” to clean muddy feet if needeeAnd definitely leave as early as you can stand—the stops are tiny and get crowded.

I’m gonna attempt to go in order but forgive me if I mess some up! (Disclaimer: this is not a navigational aid!! LOL) In Paia, Ho’okipa lookout is THE place for kite surfers, but I recommend stopping on the way BACK instead, because (now I read…) that lots of turtles like to sun there in the afternoon. We stopped in the morning :/ Gorgeous views though.

Three Bears Falls is super popular to swim, but it was pretty wet when we went and the trail looked a little iffy for us. If you want a pic, stop at the first pull-off (in the curve), but the trailhead is at the next stop. Again, there are just a few spots at each place, so you’ll have to be patient and maybe stop on the way back. There aren’t many places to “turn around and see if anyone left.”

I just couldn’t justify paying for four of us to go to a botanical garden when I knew three of us (I.e. everybody but me!) would be complaining and rushing. So we stopped at Ke’anae Arboretum;it’s the only free place not in private property that I think you can easily see rainbow eucalyptus. Parking is just past it on the opposite side of the road and definitely take bug spray!! You can easily stroll through in 20 minutes or so; the fam tolerated that!

Kaumahina state wayside has some of the only really bathrooms along the way, but frankly we found them as nasty as most porta-potties. I highly recommend bringing some good hand wipes. There are some lovely views from there though.

You must stop for banana bread somewhere along the way; I think you get ticketed if you don’t LOL We stopped at Halfway to Hana because it’s right on the road. It was fine but not life-altering. Kids got shave ice too. We may try Aunty Sandys this time since it gets all the raves, but it’s a little off the road and frankly I never saw the turnoff.

But I do highly recommend Coconut Glens! He makes ice cream from coconut milk and it was delish; I had the lilikoi flavor. My son got a drinking coconut carved open with a machete (worth the cost just to see that!) and daughter got a thrill of chunking it out the roof of the jeep and off a cliff when he was finished. It’s the little things….🤣🤣🤣

A word of wisdom/warning about food. Bring some. Seriously, I highly recommend heavy snacks and plenty of water. You’ll find 100 little food stands on TripAdvisor and such, but we went in June (2017, pre-covid) and a good many of them were either nowhere to be found or closed at the moment. We ate at Nahiku Marketplace and whatever we had was fine (I know I had tacos) but DH was pretty skeeved out by the nasty tables and bugs running around. YMMV, but I’d have something on hand just in case you don’t find anything you want when you want to eat.

We stopped at several other waterfalls and pull-outs and the views are just amazing. I’d say just don’t get too hung up on any certain spot in case you can’t park. You might have to skip it anytry on your way back.

But the reason I’m planning to stay two nights in Hana this trip…..first, the Seven Pools we’re closed due to a mudslide, and somehow I didn’t even know about the Pipiwai Trail, so need to see those. But the gorrrrrrgeous beaches……omg. Koki Beach is fabulous (bones of Pele), not for swimming, but definitely go see the red sand. Hamoa Beach literally looks like a travel ad for Hawaii; we didn’t have time for more than a peek, and next time I intend to park my butt there for a few hours! Gorgeous.

We also didn’t do any of the food trucks or restaurants IN Hana because we stopped on the way, and some of them sound really good. Looking forward to those.

And my favorite spot in all of Hawaii (with the possible exception of Kilauea, cuz LAVA…) was Wai’anapanapa state park!! By afternoon, it was kinda crowded and really HOT. I fully intend to spend two full mornings here. If you go, you have to make reservations online now, at least one day prior (and no more than 14 days). We totally missed the freshwater caves, too. It literally took my breath when I came to the first lookout and I MUST return 😍😍😍

I hope that gives you a few things to think about and I’m happy to answer any specific questions if I can! It’s quite an adventure!!
 

braysmommy

DIS Veteran
Joined
Dec 10, 2010
Cgattis thank you so much for taking the time to share info on Road to Hana! We plan to head out very early on our second full day on Maui while still somewhat on EST. I have a reservation for Wai'anapanapa already and Pipiwai Trail is also a must do for us. Thanks again for all the great info!!
 

abdgeek

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 29, 2012
This will be our first time on Maui and booked snorkeling tour with Sail Trilogy - Discover Kaanapali.
You will love Sail Trilogy! I used them the last time I was in Maui for my snorkel trips. I did Discover Kaanapali and Molokini. I did snuba at Molokini and it was great. If the weather isn’t good, the captain will adjust where you snorkel which was what happened to us on the Kaanapali snorkel. Weather was bad on the other side of the island, so I wound up snorkeling Turtle Town twice— once for Molokini and once for Kaanapali. I found the food to be pretty good and the workers serve you everything. The staff is very friendly and genuinely enjoy their jobs.

I’ve already booked them for my trip later this year and will be snorkeling Lanai and whale watching. Enjoy!
 
  • FoodieFriend

    DisneyFan
    Joined
    Apr 4, 2015
    Annnnd now I’m starving!! 🤣

    Has Tin Roof made it through covid?? I found their website when thinking about plans for our arrival night and it sounded awesome!! But for some reason I thought I’d read they closed? Hopefully that was temporary? We did Ukupalakua Ranch last time because DH is a cattle farmer too; acid deer burger was superb. Kind of thought about just swinging by the store this time but maybe eating at Bullys Burgers instead. Should we rethink that? Glad to hear Humble Market Kitchin made the list; it’s in the plan too! I’ve also heard great things about 808 deli.

    What do you think about any of these: Pint and Cork, Maui Brewing (although it won’t be my beloved Kona Brewing, I know 😕), Miso Phat Sushi? What’s your fave in Paia (casual—not Mama’s)? And what about Hana?

    Thanks for the info!! We love to eat too!!
    My sister & mom went to Tin Roof last March during covid (work did not allow travel for me last year, so I had to cancel the night before we were supposed to fly out). They were still working out the kinks in their online ordering system at that time, but she did say the food was delish. I think they might have temporarily closed for remodel, but I swear on their Instagram it was reopened.
    They enjoyed Humble Market Kitchin as well & I hope to try it in July since I usually love Roy Yamaguchi's restaurants.
    808 Deli was my Yelp find for them to try & they really enjoyed it. Again, this is another place I hope to get to in July.

    Our family is prone to motion sickness, so we have never gone to or desire to go to Hana. I have done Haleakala sunrise & while it's beautiful, it wipes out your whole morning because the wait is exhausting. I've only done it a couple times & I wouldn't do it again unless I was traveling with first time visitors. My mom also doesn't enjoy driving to Lahaina so she won't go to Leoda's unless I'm driving. It's my absolute favorite on the island because I. Love. Bread. :rotfl2:
    We're also don't drink alcohol, so I have no idea how Pint & Cork or Maui Brewing measures up. I've always wanted to try something in the Paia area, but we've never ventured out there, yet.

    Because I missed last year's Maui trip, there's a lot I need to try plus a lot of old favorites. I may not have the tummy space to eat everything in 4 days!
     

    BigTex71

    DIS Dad #536...... Fort Worth, Texas
    Joined
    Jun 16, 2009
    We’re seriously staying at the same hotel…..!! You must be going a little before us because my dates aren’t open yet. You can be the guinea pig!! 🤣. Have you stayed there before? Would love some specific feedback on pools and such if you have; kind of hard to tell what’s what/where from the pics online. (If I can’t get all my nights on points, we may stay at that Residence Inn.)
    ...
    I’ve got this Maui snorkel guide book that talks very specifically about pros and cons of each beach. Definitely Makena seems great. Any other faves you have? Probably will check out all the ones on the beach path but want to check out Malauka too; we saw zero turtles in 14 days last time (but several seals!!) so really hoping to see some! Was even thinking of kayaking there; have you?
    ...
    Happy to share anything I learned last time and look forward to planning alongside you here!!
    Check out the trip report in my sig - it has lots of pictures. We didn't originally plan on staying at Wailea Beach Resort, but ended up there (see the trip report for the gory details LOL.) We instantly fell in love with the resort. They have great pools, though they may seem more 'sterile' or 'corporate' than some of the Hawaiian grotto-type pools at some resorts (or Aulani.) The hotel just has a nice, upscale vibe. It reminds me of a Four Seasons or Ritz-Carlton in that regard.

    Even though we already booked a sun deck room at that resort for next year, we may change it to a 2 or 3 bedroom condo at Kaanapali Ali'i resort for a few reasons:
    1. More easily walkable places to visit at Kaanapali beach area (you need to hop in the car to get to just about anywhere from WBC.)
    2. Closer to The Gazebo Restaurant for the world's greatest pancakes (see trip report.)
    3. We stayed at Wailea last trip and the two best areas to stay - according to my research- are Wailea and Kaanapali. So we could check off that on the list.
    4. Full kitchen - save some $$$ by making several meals at the condo - since eating out is very expensive in Hawaii.

    But I am torn - because Wailea Beach Resort was so nice!

    About some of the beaches we visited:
    Makena - a great beach to sit in the sand and relax. It is not as swimmable as some of the other beaches due to harsher waves and some rocky areas - but the rocky areas make for good snorkeling.
    Kamaole Beach Park III - good for swimming, body board, relaxing
    Ho'Okipa Beach Park - Sea Turtles! 'Nuf said. Surfing. Bigger waves, so not super swimmable.
    Wai’anapanapa State Park (Black Sand Beach) - nice, but small. Cool lava tube to explore. Very photogenic beach.

    Beaches on my list for next trip:
    Kapalua Bay
    Kaanapali Beach
    Ho'Okipa Beach Park
    Makena
    Kam III
    Wai’anapanapa State Park

    We kayaked for the first time a few years ago when we were in Broken Bow, OK. We loved it, so we would be VERY interested in a beach area that would be calm enough for some kayaking. Please share what you find.

    Our favorite beach we visited between Maui and Oahu was Lanikai Beach on the east side of Oahu (next to Kailua Beach.) That is the main reason we are going to fit in several days on Oahu again (and for Aulani!)

    I, too, look forward to planning alongside you. Planning is half the fun!
     
  • EllinK

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2012
    We’re seriously staying at the same hotel…..!! You must be going a little before us because my dates aren’t open yet. You can be the guinea pig!! 🤣. Have you stayed there before?
    We have stayed at the Marriott in Wailea several times and love it.
     

    Grumpy by Birth

    Happy by choice
    Joined
    May 27, 2017
    No current plans, but we hope to get back to Maui in the next few years.

    Some of our favorite (simple) pleasures (admittedly some are tourist traps) were:

    Snorkeling in Kapalua Bay
    Driving the Road to Hana
    Getting lunch at Teddy's Bigger Burgers and then dessert at Island Cream Company across the parking lot
    Souvenir shopping at Kihei Kalama Village
     

    cgattis

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 1, 2009
    No current plans, but we hope to get back to Maui in the next few years.

    Some of our favorite (simple) pleasures (admittedly some are tourist traps) were:

    Snorkeling in Kapalua Bay
    Driving the Road to Hana
    Getting lunch at Teddy's Bigger Burgers and then dessert at Island Cream Company across the parking lot
    Souvenir shopping at Kihei Kalama Village
    Yeah, we will definitely have to hit Teddy’s again; those were really good burgers, and we’re kinda burger snobs.

    What were your favorite stops along the road to Hana?
     

    Grumpy by Birth

    Happy by choice
    Joined
    May 27, 2017
    Yeah, we will definitely have to hit Teddy’s again; those were really good burgers, and we’re kinda burger snobs.

    What were your favorite stops along the road to Hana?
    Our favorites (in no particular order):
    Garden of Eden Arboretum
    Basically ALL the waterfalls
    Stopping for lunch at Nahiku Marketplace (also got some banana bread to go)
    Waianapanapa State Park
     

    cgattis

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jan 1, 2009
    Our favorites (in no particular order):
    Garden of Eden Arboretum
    Basically ALL the waterfalls
    Stopping for lunch at Nahiku Marketplace (also got some banana bread to go)
    Waianapanapa State Park
    I think we took the same trip LOL except I got my banana bread at Halfway to Hana. Did you make it to the pools? They were closed for a mudslide when we were there.
     

    natebenma

    Beach Club Dee
    Joined
    Jul 19, 2008
    Snorkeling Molokini was on my bucket list the last time I was in Maui. I went in December, so was able to do whale watching too. I did Molokini snorkeling with Sail Trilogy and really loved them. I actually did two snorkeling trips with them, Molokini and Kaanapali, and did snuba at Molokini. Sail Trilogy leaves about 7am for Molokini, so we were the 2nd boat there. It wasn’t that crowded and we snorkeled about 45 minutes before going to a 2nd snorkel spot. I did whale watching with PacWhale, but they also do snorkeling. I plan to use Sail Trilogy again this year when I go to Maui to snorkel Lanai and whale watch.
    Second, Third and Fourth vote for Trilogy!

    We used them for a Molokini trip in July 2014, then for Molokini and 2 whale watches in February 2020. They are fantastic!

    🐠🐋
     


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